How to manage water features in your garden

The owners of Hindringham Hall in Norfolk, a historic, moated house, give advice and helpful tips to help you manage the stream, pond or boggy area in your garden. 

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How to manage water features

Norfolk has more than its fair share of quintessentially English manor houses, hidden away down remote country lanes, untouched by the passing of time. Sixteenth century Hindringham Hall is one of these, forming a mellow backdrop to the romantic garden created over 22 years by Lynda and Charles Tucker.

The garden is defined by a 12th-century moat, which encircles the house as if still protecting its inhabitants from intruders. Beyond the moat lie the walled Vegetable Garden, Stream and Bog Garden, and Charles is overseeing the restoration of the newly rediscovered and rare Medieval fishponds.

Water is the focus of this garden, giving it a timeless atmosphere – and a few challenges. Here Lynda and Charles give some tips on how to manage water features in your own garden. 

Solid support
Hindringham Hall’s 12th-century moat creates a natural flow, leading visitors round the main features of the garden. However, the banks suffer from erosion, which is stabilised with large dramatic swathes of senecio and buddleia, all raised from cuttings.

Focus on the positives
When the Tuckers bought an adjoining field three years ago, it was planted with trees and was very wet. “We knew there were Medieval fishponds there,” says Charles. “So we felled the trees, revealed and dammed the fishponds, sowed grass and introduced sheep as living lawnmowers.” Eventually, they will install sluice gates, but in the meantime the couple have solved a problem while also saving part of Hindringham’s history.  

Adaptable planting
Although Lynda has planted a giant Gunnera manicata in the Bog Garden, her advice on planting up a bog is to “keep it simple with yellow iris, reeds and water lilies in case you lose plants with the changing levels of water”.

Go with the flow
In the Stream Garden, Lynda has planted hostas along one bank of the Stiffkey Stream with day lilies on the other to create an eye-catching impression of three streams. Shade- and damp-loving primulas and hellebores provide splashes of colour.

Natural defences 
Lynda and Charles employ some natural help to keep blanket weed and elodea under control. “Grass carp enjoy the weed,” says Lynda, “while the heron enjoys the carp, so it’s a race!”  

 

USEFUL INFORMATION

Address Hindringham Hall, Blacksmiths Lane, Hindringham, Norfolk NR21 0QA.
Tel 01328 878226.
Web hindringhamhall.org
Open Sundays (2-5pm) and Wednesdays (10am-1pm), 29 March – 1 October 2017, including one Sunday for NGS, see website for details. Admission £7.

This article was taken from a longer feature in the January issue of Gardens illustrated (243). 

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